Pop Science and the Everyday

Looking back, I can say that science was never my favorite subject in school. Sure, there were topics I enjoyed, like the standout day every year when our high school chemistry teacher demonstrated the combustibility of different gases and you could hear small explosions coming from his third floor classroom, but overall, science wasn’t something that I got really excited about. It wasn’t until I was older that I fully understood that science doesn’t just happen in a classroom or a lab, but science really is all around us, all the time.

This seemingly newfound insight prompted me to explore questions I had about our world, and in doing research found that many other people had questions too! It turns out that a good number of Denver Public Library staff and customers have an abiding interest in science topics both big and small, so staff compiled the Pop Science Core Collection to promote formative popular science topics also to highlight books that are both fun to read and informative too.

For me, some of the most enjoyable titles touched on seemingly small questions like, “why does a paperclip bend like this?” as addressed in Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Manmade World by Mark Miodownik, or the emotions, thoughts, and subtle complexities of the natural world, like the of lives of apes, elephants, or whales in Frans de Waal’s Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?. Popular science books can also be a window into the stunning variety of how humans live, like the memoir of a forensic pathologist starting her career just before 9/11 in Working Stiff, or the intricacies of combining botany and Indigenous knowledge of the natural world in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass.

Questions addressed in popular science don’t always pack the same literal punch as my favorite day in high school chemistry class, but in the end we hope that our Popular Science Core Collection can both sate questions about your everyday and also inspire and motivate your own sense of wonder and curiosity. For more topics with recommended and well-rounded titles  in multiple formats, please see all of Denver Public Library’s core collections.

A guest blog written by Brooke G, Pop Science Core Collection Team Member

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